I guess there's no place to start telling my life's journey like the beginning, so here goes...I was born in February 1950 at Community Hospital in Battle Creek. I was born right smack in the middle of the Twentieth Century. As far as I'm concerned, my life started just as the two best decades of progress this country had, or has ever seen was getting under way. It was a great time to grow up in!
I was the third born of my parent's four children. I had two older sisters and one younger brother. Marilyn, the oldest, was born in August of 1945 and is mentally disabled. Joyce was born in July of 1948. I can only imagine my parent's delight when I was born, and their disappointment when it was discovered I had a birth defect. My legs and feet were not completely developed. My Mom later told me the bones in my legs were soft and this might be a slight exaggeration, but she said they could have been tied in knots. My feet came up and were wrapped around my lower legs. My Mother also told me later that she made up her mind that she "was not" going to have a crippled son!
Mom fashioned Popsicle sticks into make-shift braces, pulled my feet into position and some how managed to keep my feet in the proper shape until I was seen by one of the best known orthopedic doctors in the state. He put both feet and legs in cast to keep them developing properly. I don't know how long I was in cast, but I do know it was a long time. Mom used to tell me how women would come up to her in places like the grocery store, and seeing me in cast, say,"What in the world happened to that poor,little boy!?"
Later, when the last pair of cast were removed, I was fitted with Orthopedic shoes (special shoes fitted to keep my feet in proper growing position). Then a steel bar was attached that kept the shoes connected to each other. This was called a "Dennis Brown Club Foot Splint." I had to wear it day and night, 24/7. My Mom said I'd crawl on the floor with this splint attached to both shoes, and my legs and feet reminded her of a fish tail going back and forth. I've often wondered if my older sister's mental deficiency and my birth defect might somehow be connected. We seemed to have an abundance of mentally impaired children in our area of the township. Plus, this was in the days before the spraying of DDT was outlawed. No way of knowing for sure. Anyway, this is how my life's journey got started and how I became the "Forrest Gump" of the family farm.